James learned to balance the risk: reward scales as a teenager, climbing Peak District gritstone with what he refers to as ‘sketchy’ safety measures. That risk clearly had an effect on his climbing and he rapidly became a sublimely skilful climber with the vision to match. His naturally elegant climbing style ensured he was one of the UK’s brightest climbing stars by the age of 19, just four years after getting his first taste on rock.
He’s adept at everything from bouldering to multi-pitch, but traditional climbing is where he really excels. His first ascents of ‘The Groove’ and ‘The Walk Of Life’ – two of the most technically difficult routes in the world – and his ground up (without top-rope practice) ascent of ‘Muy Caliente’, an incredibly bold and difficult E10 on the imposing sea cliffs of Pembrokeshire, Wales, raised the bar for traditional rock climbing. And in 2014 he achieved a coveted ascent of the world’s first E11, Rhapsody, in Dumbarton, Scotland.
Away from the UK, and with his wife and fellow climber Caroline Ciavaldini, he’s climbed everything from choss in the desert to waterfalls in Asia. Together, often driven by James, they seek out adventure and climbs that are off-centre from the norm. Now based in the South of France, James has discovered joy in experiencing newness close to home and introducing his growing family to the outdoors, combining bike travel with climbing to show us all that magic can be found on your doorstep.